Biodiversity Values Assessment

Biodiversity Values Assessment

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
Summary for Policy-Makers
1 August 2022

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Biodiversity Values Assessment

IPBES is the scientific assessment process for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, equivalent to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It has prepared a special report on the many ways of understanding the values of biodiversity, ranging from material to spiritual and including Indigenous world-views. In addition to the full report still to be issued, a Summary for Policy-Makers (SPM) gives its important messages. These are very close to the concerns of the International Environment Forum to bring together scientific and spiritual perspectives.

The question addressed is how we value nature. At one extreme nature is seen only as a resource to be exploited to make money, like cutting down the trees in a forest for timber. Then there are people who believe they are part of nature, for whom a tree may be their ancestor, and if they must cut a tree they render thanks and ask for forgiveness. For others a tree might be a source of beauty or a metaphor for a fruitful life.

One important observation is that, even when such alternative values are documented and shown to be important to many people, they are almost never taken into account in decision-making, which is often dominated by economic decisions that ignore other values. The report suggests ways to address this.

It is significant that the IPBES, as an official international scientific assessment body answerable to governments, has recognized and explored these intangible values of nature, and asked how they can all be taken into account in decision-making for sustainability. It is an exploration of the relationships between humans and nature, an issue that has also been addressed by the Bahá’í International Community in its 2022 statement One Planet, One Habitation.

We have extracted from the SPM the ten Key Messages of the report, including their explanations, as well as the headlines of the Background Messages, each of which has some paragraphs of explanation in the SPM. These are grouped as: A. Understanding the diverse values of nature; B. Measuring and making visible the values of nature; C. Leveraging the diverse values of nature for transformative change towards sustainability; and D. Embedding the values of nature for transformative decision-making for sustainability.

There are also two boxes in the SPM of particular interest to IEF: A values perspective on justice and power; and Pathways that contribute to just and sustainable futures prioritize distinct underlying values of nature.

We have also prepared this material as a Study Guide 134 slide presentation in pdf (10 mb) for those who may wish to study it together.


approved 9 July 2022, issued 1 August 2022

At its ninth session on 3-9 July 2022, the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services approved the summary for policymakers of the methodological assessment regarding the diverse conceptualization of multiple values of nature and its benefits, including biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services (assessment of the diverse values and valuation of nature)


The assessment of the diverse values and valuation of nature of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) provides guidance to navigate pathways for reconciling people’s good quality of life with life on Earth and advancing the intertwined economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced manner. It includes an understanding of the relations between different world-views and values, a values typology, guidelines for designing and implementing valuation methods and processes, and for embedding the diverse values of nature into decision-making and policymaking.

The assessment also highlights key capacities for working with multiple values to leverage transformative change across different stakeholders and institutions. Nature is understood by IPBES and by the assessment in an inclusive way, encompassing multiple perspectives and understandings of the natural world, such as biodiversity and the perspectives of indigenous peoples and local communities who use and embody concepts like Mother Earth. In addition, the assessment of the diverse values and valuation of nature is expected to contribute to achieving the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the future post-2020 global biodiversity framework, towards just and sustainable futures.

KM1. The causes of the global biodiversity crisis and the opportunities to address them are tightly linked to the ways in which nature is valued in political and economic decisions at all levels.

Unprecedented climate change and decline of biodiversity are affecting ecosystem functioning and negatively impacting people’s quality of life. An important driver of the global decline of biodiversity is the unsustainable use of nature, including persistent inequalities between and within countries, emanating from predominant political and economic decisions based on a narrow set of values (e.g., prioritizing nature’s values as traded in markets). Simultaneously, access to and distribution of the benefits from nature’s many contributions to people are highly inequitable. Yet, a consolidated global consensus reflected by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity has established a shared vision of prosperity for people and the planet. Achieving this vision depends on system-wide transformative change that incorporates the diverse values of nature and is aligned with the mutually supportive goals of justice and sustainability and their intertwined economic, social and environmental dimensions.

KM2. Despite the diversity of nature’s values, most policymaking approaches have prioritized a narrow set of values at the expense of both nature and society, as well as of future generations, and have often ignored values associated with indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ world-views.

People perceive, experience and interact with nature in many ways. This results in different understandings of the role that nature plays as the foundation of people's lives and in contributing to their quality of life, leading to a diverse range of values related to nature. However, policymaking largely disregards the multiple ways in which nature matters to people in that it often prioritizes a narrow set of nature’s values.

For example, the predominant focus on supporting short-term profit and economic growth typically relies on macroeconomic indicators like gross domestic product. Such indicators generally consider only those values of nature reflected through markets and therefore do not adequately reflect changes in quality of life. One important reason is that they overlook the non-market values associated with nature’s contributions to people, including the functions, structure, and ecosystem processes upon which life depends. In addition, such indicators do not account for the over-exploitation of nature and its ecosystems and biodiversity and the impact on long-term sustainability. Conservation policies that focus on biodiversity for its own sake may downplay other values and exclude local populations that depend on nature for their livelihoods. The use of a restricted set of values of nature that underpins many development and environmental policies is embedded in and promoted by societal norms and formal rules.

KM3. The diversity of nature’s values in policymaking can be advanced by considering a typology of nature's values that encompasses the richness of people's relationships with nature.

The values of nature vary greatly across knowledge systems, languages, cultural traditions and environmental contexts. People and nature can be seen as part of holistic and interdependent systems of life, or, in other world-views, considered as separate from one another. Diverse understandings of nature are expressed in different ways (e.g., via symbols, rituals, languages, and data and models).

Given the diversity of world-views, cultures, knowledge systems and disciplines, it is challenging to define nature’s values in a universally practical and acceptable way. A comprehensive typology of the diverse values of nature can help guide decisions that affect nature and its contributions to people in diverse contexts, including economic (e.g., investment, production, consumption), political (e.g., recognition of individual and collective rights and duties) or sociocultural (e.g., forming, maintaining or changing peoples’ sociocultural identities) decisions.

A typology of nature's values requires value perspectives that encompass the richness of people’s relationships with nature, including:
(i) world-views, the ways in which people conceive and interact with the world;
(ii) knowledge systems, bodies of knowledge, practices and beliefs such as academic, indigenous and local knowledge systems embodied in world-views;
(iii) broad values, the moral principles and life goals that guide people-nature interactions;
(iv) specific values, judgements regarding the importance of nature in particular contexts, grouped into instrumental values (i.e., means to a desired end often associated with the notion of “ecosystem services”), relational values (i.e., the meaningfulness of human-nature interactions), and intrinsic values (i.e., independent of people as valuers); and
(v) value indicators, the quantitative measures and qualitative descriptors used to denote nature’s importance in terms of biophysical, monetary or sociocultural metrics. The values typology helps to promote the use of values that have been underutilized in decision-making.

People conceive of or relate to nature in multiple and often complementary ways: living from, with, in, and as nature. These different ways of relating to nature reflect people’s different world-views. Although this typology may not capture the full range of values linked to various knowledge systems, it can help to understand how certain human-nature relationships can be incorporated into particular policy decisions.

KM4. Valuation processes can be tailored to equitably take into account the values of nature of multiple stakeholders in different decision-making contexts.

Valuation is an explicit, intentional process in which agreed-upon methods are applied to make visible the diverse values that people hold for nature. The type and quality of information obtained from valuation depend on how, why and by whom valuation processes are designed and implemented. The way valuation is conducted, including the methods chosen, is in part determined by power relations in society, which influence which and whose values of nature are recognized and how equitably the benefits and burdens arising from these decisions are distributed.

Considering the values of multiple individuals, stakeholders and interest groups at scales beyond the individual is an essential part of valuation. One way is to aggregate individual or group values into social values, which can be weighted to account for differences between stakeholders (e.g., income disparities). Another way is to collectively form or express shared social values through deliberative processes, which can help bridge multiple values that are difficult to aggregate (e.g., via talking circles). These are two complementary strategies, yet any strategy to achieve valuation beyond the individual needs to consider challenges of representation, inequity (e.g., within and between generations) and asymmetric power relations (e.g., predominance of certain world-views) among the actors affected.

Furthermore, the following five steps help guide valuations:
(i) constructing a legitimate process;
(ii) defining the purpose of valuation;
(iii) scoping the valuation;
(iv) selecting and applying valuation methods; and
(v) articulating the values into decision-making.
These steps can increase robustness of valuations to inform different decision-making contexts, including in the context of indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ territories.

KM5. More than 50 valuation methods and approaches, originating from diverse disciplines and knowledge systems, are available to date to assess nature’s values; choosing appropriate and complementary methods requires assessing trade-offs between their relevance, robustness and resource requirements.

There exist many valuation methods and approaches to elicit and assess the diverse values of nature. Valuation methods, originating from diverse disciplines and knowledge systems (including indigenous peoples and local communities), can be grouped into four non-disciplinary “method families”:
(i) nature-based valuation gathers, measures or analyses information about the properties of nature and its contributions to people;
(ii) statement-based valuation directly asks people to express their values;
(iii) behaviour-based valuation identifies how people value nature by observing their behaviour and practices; and
(iv) integrated valuation brings together various types of values assessed with different information sources.
Each method family relies on different data sources, different levels and forms of social participation, identifies different value types, and has specific technical and skill requirements and limitations. While the method families help highlight the commonalities of procedures across different valuation traditions, other considerations are needed to fully appreciate the variations of valuation undertaken according to specific knowledge systems, particularly those of indigenous peoples and local communities.

Different valuation approaches have trade-offs between relevance (i.e., salience in terms of the values that can be used in decisions), robustness (i.e., reliable, consistent and socially representative) and resources (i.e., time, financial, technical and human resources). Given the diversity of social, economic and ecological contexts, there is no one-size-fits-all valuation method and available valuation methods may be adapted to address local realities. The use of complementary methods helps to make a wider diversity of values visible, while improving the quality and legitimacy of the information generated to support decisions about nature.

KM6. Despite increasing calls to consider valuation in policy decisions, scientific documentation shows that less than 5 per cent of published valuation studies report its uptake in policy decisions.

International initiatives (e.g., the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity; the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting – Ecosystem Accounting; various “inclusive/comprehensive wealth” approaches; United Nations General Assembly resolution 74/244 on harmony with nature) have promoted the integration of the values of nature into national-level policies. Yet, the vast majority of peer-reviewed literature on valuation studies do not document influence on decisions. A majority of countries have not made progress at a rate that would have allowed achievement of Aichi Target 2 by 2020 of integrating biodiversity values into strategies, planning process and accounting, as reported in their national reports to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The uptake of valuation in Governmental decision-making is more likely when the valuation process is relevant to the different stages of policymaking and when it is sufficiently resourced. Furthermore, documenting the use and impact of valuation knowledge can be improved by iterating studies through the policy cycle. Valuation uptake can also be improved by co-production of valuation knowledge, best practice guidance, standardization of valuation methods where this is suitable, and more use of participatory and deliberative methods that represent indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ values. Gaps in knowledge and capacities are more prevalent in developing countries.

KM7. Achieving sustainable and just futures requires institutions that enable a recognition and integration of the diverse values of nature and nature’s contributions to people.

Informal social conventions and norms and formal legal rules (i.e., institutions) govern people’s lives and regulate actions by decision makers. In addition, institutions play a crucial role in shaping how nature is valued within and across societies. Institutions influence which values become socially legitimized and which ones are excluded from decision-making. Hence, ensuring greater transparency about which values are embedded in institutions is key to recognizing the values of nature that are at stake in any decision-making context. Enhancing the institutional and technical capacities to monitor and assess nature's contributions to people is also crucial to improve uptake of valuation methods and practices, and enable more transparent and inclusive decision-making processes.

Reforming existing institutions and creating new ones can improve political, economic and social decision-making, mainstreaming the consideration of nature’s diverse values and leading to better outcomes for people and nature. For example, policies giving local people authority in protected area management often result in improvement of people's good quality of life and more effective, long-lasting conservation. Tackling power asymmetries is important because power shapes the extent to which the values held by different actors are considered in decision-making. Institutions that enable more diverse values to be considered have greater potential to avoid or mitigate conflicts, as these often arise from not identifying and anticipating value clashes. Recognizing and respecting the world-views, values and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities and the institutions that support their rights, territories or interests allow policies to be more inclusive of how different people live, relate to and value nature, which also translates into better outcomes for people and nature.

KM8. Transformative change needed to address the global biodiversity crisis relies on shifting away from predominant values that currently over-emphasize short term and individual material gains, to nurturing sustainability-aligned values across society.

Putting sustainability at the heart of decision-making can be supported by redefining “development” and “good quality of life”, and recognizing the multiple ways in which people relate to each other and to nature. Societal goals will need to align more strongly with broad values like justice, stewardship, unity and responsibility, both towards other people and towards nature. This shift in the framing of decision-making can be supported by ensuring that a more balanced range of values are considered in political and economic decisions by
(i) reducing the dominance of those broad values that mostly relate to individualism and materialism, whilst mobilizing broad values that are consistent with living in harmony with nature; and
(ii) reducing the dominance of specific values to remove the dominance of market-based instrumental values, whilst mobilizing relational, intrinsic and non-market instrumental values.

Balancing and mobilizing values can be facilitated by participatory processes for envisioning alternative futures that are inclusive of diverse world-views, knowledge systems and values. Various pathways can contribute to achieving just and sustainable futures, including, but not limited to, the “green economy”, “degrowth”, “Earth stewardship”, “nature protection” and other pathways arising from diverse world-views and knowledge systems (e.g., living well and other philosophies of good living). All of these sustainability pathways are associated with certain sustainability-aligned values and seek a more diverse valuation of nature as a foundation for reconciling social, economic and ecological dimensions. These and many other pathways from other world-views and knowledge systems (e.g., living well in harmony with Mother Earth, among others) reflect different perspectives on how best to bring about values-based transformative change. However, all are founded on the need to rebalance the range of values shaping individual and collective decisions.

KM9. Working with a combination of four values-based leverage points (i.e., undertaking valuation, embedding values in decision-making, reforming policy and shifting societal goals) may catalyse transformation towards sustainable and just futures

Transformative change is more likely to be catalysed through actions that target a combination of values- and valuation-based leverage points. These are:
(i) recognizing the diversity of nature’s values through undertaking relevant and robust valuation;
(ii) embedding valuation into the different phases of decision-making processes to allow meaningful consideration of nature’s diverse values;
(iii) reforming policy in order to realign incentives, rights, and legal regulations with the diverse values of nature and to empower actors to express and act upon their sustainability-aligned values; and
(iv) creating spaces to deliberate, develop and shift societal goals and norms attuned to the agreed global objectives of sustainability and justice.

Activating the latter two deeper leverage points can be facilitated by aligning bottom-up approaches (e.g., empowering civil society via public deliberation) with top-down ones (e.g., changing regulations and policy frameworks).

KM10. Information, resource (i.e., technical and financial) and capacity gaps hinder the inclusion of diverse values of nature in decision-making. Capacity-building and development, and collaborations among a range of societal actors, can help bridge these gaps

The transformative changes needed to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the future post-2020 global biodiversity framework and the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity can be advanced by bridging key knowledge-to-action gaps, which are unequally distributed between the developed and developing regions of the world. Such gaps can be addressed through meaningful, context-specific, inclusive, legitimate, and iterative consideration of the role of diverse values of nature in decisions. Sustainability-aligned values, including those of indigenous peoples and local communities, can guide the design and implementation of transformative policy instruments, cross-sectoral development policies, as well as policy initiatives across scales.

Aligning values with sustainability necessitates addressing conflicting values. This in turn calls for developing the capacities of various types of decision makers to
(i) enhance their motivation to recognize and address power and equity asymmetries;
(ii) use suitable valuation methods and approaches by enhancing the availability of resources needed (e.g., technical and financial);
(iii) foster inclusive social learning that involves different types of knowledge, including traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities;
(iv) negotiate compromises among stakeholders’ different interests and values towards achieving equitable outcomes;
(v) improve coherence across sectors and jurisdictional scales; and
(vi) increase transparency and accountability in decision-making.

Overcoming knowledge-to-action gaps, such as those related to understanding and addressing power asymmetries among stakeholders and their values, and fitting valuation supply to demand, would advance values-centred, system-wide transformations. Values-centred transformations, through collaborations among the range of societal actors, are relevant to revert the current biodiversity crisis and to build more sustainable and just futures for people and nature.


(just headlines, for the full text see the SPM report)

A. Understanding the diverse values of nature

A1. Over millennia, around the world, people have developed many ways of understanding and connecting with nature, leading to a large diversity of values of nature and its contributions to people.

A2. Using a typology of the values of nature can provide guidance to decision makers on understanding and engaging with the diverse ways in which people relate to and value nature.

A3. The multiple ways in which people conceive good quality of life are reflected in how they express broad values that shape people’s interactions with nature, such as unity, responsibility, stewardship and justice, which can align with sustainability.

A4. The complementary objectives of justice and sustainability can be advanced through better recognition and uptake of nature’s diverse values in political, economic and sociocultural decision-making.

A5. Incorporation of the diverse values of nature in decisions requires consideration of whether and how values can be directly compared, made compatible, or be considered in parallel.

A6. The way decision-making considers the values of nature at varying societal scales (e.g., local communities, countries) has implications for how different social groups are represented in decisions.

A7. Understanding how values are formed, changed and eroded helps policymakers identify options to achieve decision outcomes that better align with sustainability objectives.

A8. Institutions (i.e., informal social conventions and norms, and formal legal rules) are underpinned by and support certain values in ways that strongly influence whose values count in decisions.

A9. Predominant economic and political decisions have prioritized certain values of nature, particularly market-based instrumental values, often at the expense of non-market instrumental, relational and intrinsic values.

B. Measuring and making visible the values of nature

B1. Over 50 different methods to assess nature’s values have been applied in diverse social-ecological contexts around the world.

B2. The large portfolio of valuation methods, originating from diverse disciplines and knowledge systems (including indigenous and local knowledge systems), can be grouped into four non-disciplinary method families that consist of nature-based, behaviour-based, statement-based and integrated methods.

B3. Indigenous peoples and local communities undertake valuation of nature in their places and territories in accordance with their own world-views and applying locally established procedures, which can offer new perspectives to improve and advance valuation processes.

B4. Different valuation methods and approaches can assess different types of values of nature; however, challenges emerge when comparing different values to inform decision-making.

B5. While meaningful stakeholder participation in valuation is needed to ensure appropriate consideration of their values in decisions, participation at every step of valuation is only found in 1 per cent of valuation studies reviewed.

B6. A key challenge when eliciting values at higher social scales is identifying and addressing ways in which access to nature's contributions is inequitably distributed across individuals, groups and generations.

B7. Standardization procedures in valuation can help increase the uptake of ecosystem accounting into national policies, with due consideration to the ongoing challenges of implementation in decision-making, linking accounting to diverse valuation perspectives and the challenges of measurement and valuation.

B8. Valuation processes can follow five iterative steps to address the trade-offs between the relevance, robustness and resource requirements of valuation methods.

B9. Choosing appropriate valuation methods involves identifying their comparative strengths and weaknesses, particularly by taking into account their relevance, robustness and resource requirements.

B10. Different economic nature valuation initiatives can complement one another to inform policy decisions.

C. Leveraging the diverse values of nature for transformative change towards sustainability

C1. Transformative change towards sustainability can be facilitated through policies designed to incorporate sustainability-aligned values into established social conventions, norms and legal rules that shape human-nature relations.

C2. Valuation can support policymaking across the different stages of the policy cycle.

C3. Despite the significant increase in valuation studies over the last 30 years, less than 5 per cent report the uptake of valuation in decision-making.

C4. More equitable and sustainable policy outcomes are more likely to be achieved when decision-making processes recognize and balance the representation of the diverse values of nature and address social and economic power asymmetries among actors.

C5. Recognizing and respecting indigenous and local knowledge and their associated diversity of values is necessary to achieve outcomes that are respectful of different ways of living.

C6. Ignoring, excluding or marginalizing local values often leads to socio-environmental conflicts linked to value clashes, especially in the context of power asymmetries, which undermine the effectiveness of environmental policies.

C7. Pathways towards sustainability and justice hinge on the inclusion of a diverse range of nature’s values.

C8. Mobilizing sustainability-aligned values involves empowering civil society and changing societal structures and institutions.

C9. Transformative change towards more sustainable and just futures relies on a combination of actions that target different values-centred leverage points, in particular
(i) undertaking valuation that recognizes the diverse values of nature;
(ii) embedding valuation into decision-making;
(iii) reforming policies and regulations to internalize nature’s values; and
(iv) shifting underlying societal norms and goals.

D. Embedding the values of nature for transformative decision-making for sustainability

D1. Decision-making that fosters sustainability transitions can be advanced by following six interrelated values-centred guidelines: contextualization, design, representation, engagement, legitimization and reflection.

D2. Environmental policy instruments and policy support tools are more likely to foster transformative change for sustainability and justice when they are aligned with nature’s diverse values.

D3. Enhancing the capacities of decision makers to address conflicting or contradictory values can facilitate the consideration of the diverse values of nature in policy decisions.

D4. Key knowledge and operationalization gaps limit opportunities to effectively embed nature’s diverse values in decision-making.

D5. The values held and expressed by indigenous peoples and local communities can inspire environmental governance models in different social-ecological contexts.

D6. Balancing perspectives on nature’s values across sectoral policies can enhance coherence among policy instruments needed for sustainability.

D7. Value trade-offs across scales can be addressed by institutions that permeate across administrative boundaries.

D8. Social learning facilitates embedding the values of nature in decision-making.

D9. Scientists, policymakers, indigenous peoples and local communities and other societal actors can collaborate in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and implementing the future post-2020 global biodiversity framework by ensuring due consideration of the diverse values of nature.

Box SPM.2. A values perspective on justice and power

Justice is a broad value connected to the principle of fairness, i.e., the fair treatment of people and other-than-human nature, including inter- and intra-generational equity. Achieving justice implies considering its various dimensions, including:
(i) recognition justice, acknowledging and respecting different world-views, knowledge systems and values;
(ii) procedural justice, making decisions that are legitimate and inclusive for those holding different values; and
(iii) distributional justice, ensuring the fair distribution of nature’s contributions to people.

Values-centred policies to advance justice involve engaging with and addressing power asymmetries. Social, economic and political processes shape power relations that constrain access to and control over nature and its contributions to people. Power is exercised through the development of institutions (i.e., informal social conventions and norms, and formal legal rules) that establish the legitimate ways of relating to nature, who decides, whose values count, who can benefit from nature’s contributions and who bears the cost of ecosystem degradation. For example, within the international conservation movement, the multiple values associated with biodiversity conservation have not always been inclusive of the needs of indigenous peoples and local communities and have tended to favour the intrinsic values of biodiversity promoted by other stakeholders. This narrative has often underpinned global and national agendas that marginalize alternative discourses, such as biocultural diversity perspectives that draw on instrumental and relational values of nature. Hence, managing the different dimensions of justice allows for the different roles of power asymmetries in shaping people’s relations to (and values of) nature to be dealt with. This can strengthen the representation of values of underrepresented social groups in decisions through ensuring a participatory process.

Respect for the different ways of valuing nature is an act of recognition that can advance just decision-making and allow for the mainstreaming of these values into policy. For example, recognizing the role of women in the stewardship of nature and overcoming power asymmetries frequently related to gender status can advance the inclusion of the diversity of values in decisions about nature.

Box SPM.3. Pathways that contribute to just and sustainable futures prioritize distinct underlying values of nature

A pathway to transformation is a strategy for getting to a desired future based on a recognizable body of sustainability thinking and practice. Among the many potential pathways to more sustainable futures, for example, the “green economy” pathway emphasizes the primacy of reform of economic institutions, technologies and performance metrics.The “degrowth” pathway emphasizes strategies that reduce the material throughput of society, protecting human well-being through equitable distribution of material wealth rather than growth, reducing energy and resource consumption in the most industrialized countries as a means to achieve inter- and intra-generational equity and good quality of life for all. The “Earth stewardship” pathway emphasizes local sovereignty and agrarian reform, solidarity, and the promotion of biocultural practices. The “nature protection” pathway emphasizes protecting biodiversity for its own sake and expanding protected area networks. These pathways pay attention to some form of social justice, especially between generations. The nature protection pathway considers justice as a separate goal to saving biodiversity, whilst the other pathways see justice and sustainability as interdependent. These four pathways emphasize different social justice principles, such as the utilitarian approach to maximising aggregated benefits (green economy), consumption thresholds (degrowth), strengthening rights and empowerment (Earth stewardship) and safeguarding option values (nature protection).

All the pathways reveal diverse ideas about what constitute sustainability-aligned values. The green economy is underpinned by prioritization of nature’s instrumental values, emphasizing the role of nature as an asset that supports people’s good quality of life. Degrowth is underpinned by values of sufficiency and egalitarianism for shaping people’s balance with nature. Earth stewardship is underpinned by relational values linked to biocultural diversity, alongside broad values like unity and reciprocity among people and between people and nature. Nature protection is underpinned by intrinsic values of nature, particularly concerned with the inadequacies of an instrumental basis for protection. There are many other pathways referring to other world-views and knowledge systems found throughout the world, including those based on the fulfilment of a collective good quality of life (mostly based on non-anthropocentric world-views).

Source: Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2022) Summary for policymakers of the methodological assessment of the diverse values and valuation of nature of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) (1.1). IPBES Plenary at its ninth session (IPBES 9), Bonn.

Last updated 28 October 2022